Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Stock Watch: Jennings dazzles again
By Michael C. Wright
Tim Jennings' NFL-leading sixth interception gave the Bears a late lead on Sunday.
1. Tim Jennings, CB: Having already received recognition recently as NFC Defensive Player of the Week, Jennings should be up for the award again after his performance during the Bears' 23-22 win over the Carolina Panthers. Jennings picked off two passes in that game, including one returned 25 yards for a touchdown to give the Bears a fourth-quarter lead. In addition, Jennings made eight tackles while minimizing the impact of Carolina receiver Steve Smith.
2. Jay Cutler, QB: Sacked six times early on, Cutler finished the first half against the Panthers with a passer rating of 18.1 to go with an interception and a fumble, but reinforced the notion that the finish is much more important than the start. In a near-perfect fourth quarter, Cutler hit on 12 of 14 passes, including a touchdown to pull the Bears within five points with 6:52 left to play. Down 2 points with 2:20 remaining, Cutler completed 6 of 7 to move the Bears in position for the game-winning field goal. The drive marked the quarterback's 17th game-winning drive.
3. Brandon Marshall, WR: Teams gear up to stop Marshall, but only one (Green Bay) has accomplished the feat through the first seven games.
Marshall caught nine passes in the win over the Panthers. During the team's fourth-quarter scoring drive, Marshall caught five passes for
47 yards. Marshall's 675 receiving yards through the first seven games ranks as the most by a Bear since 1960, and his 50 catches rank as the second most in franchise history.
1. J'Marcus Webb, LT: The entire offensive line could easily occupy all of these spots. But Webb performed the worst on an offensive line that struggled throughout the first half, surrendering a total of six sacks. Webb had been performing fairly well after a Week 2 meltdown against the Green Bay Packers in which he gave up three sacks. Against the Panthers, however, Webb surrendered a sack and five pressures. To his credit, Webb played fairly well as a run blocker.
2. Gabe Carimi, RT: Carimi's tendency to play an overaggressive brand of football continues to put him in bad situations in pass protection.
Carimi at least cut down on the penalties in the win over the Panthers. But in pass protection, Carimi allowed a sack and four quarterback pressures. Like Webb, Carimi fared much better as a run blocker, and played a key role in the Bears averaging 4.2 yards per attempt. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice said last week that Carimi remains a work in progress. He and the entire offensive line need to step it up as crunch time approaches.
3. Matt Toeaina, DT: He's been inactive for five of the last six games, and surely he'd like to be a part of this remarkable run being made right now by the defensive line. First, Stephen Paea beat him out in the competition for the starting job opposite Henry Melton. Then, when the Bears brought back Amobi Okoye, it seemed Toeaina fell further back on the depth chart. Against the Panthers, the Bears activated newcomer Nate Collins over Toeaina. So it appears he's fallen back even further. The Bears make game day roster decisions on the defensive line based on how the players perform at practice. Toeaina seems to be falling into a situation similar to the one former Bear Anthony Adams experienced in 2011.